Ascent of Ventana Double Cone on 2021-02-25

Climber: Michael Toffey

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, February 25, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Ventana Double Cone
    Elevation:4853 ft / 1479 m

Ascent Trip Report

Took Monterey-Salinas Transit bus to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for $3.50 and started up Manuel Peak Trail at 11am. I cut off the trail at Cabezo Prieto and followed the faint route cleared a few years ago across the ridge where I set up Camp on top of the ridge at the closest and last access to the South Fork Little Sur River headwaters. This route is rapidly growing back in and I plan to return soon to spend a few days clearing it.

Day 2 I hiked up over Peak 3412 and Scrambled over the limestone summit of Peak 3535 where I took a few pictures of Kandlbinder and Mulberger Dome. Took the right hand ridge up Mulberger and skipped most of the scrambling this time, choosing to skirt the lower face instead. Quick easy 3rd class scramble up the backside got me onto Mulberger Dome summit where I snapped a few more pictures before continuing on the faint cut path up to Kandlbinder Peak. Signed the water logged register again and started down the East Ridge. I left the ridge about halfway down where the bushwhacking started anyway and headed down a fairly clear gully to the south. I had forgot to start my tracking for the day until I was heading down this slope so it’s missing the first part of day 2. From here I continued down until I reached a break in the ridge on my left hand side and followed it down some nice soft soil perfect for plunge stepping until I ran into the rocky drainage. Easy class 2-3 with a few sections of loose rock down to the bottom of The Drain from here. At the bottom of this chute, I turned left and started following the main drainage of the Ventana Creek/Big Sur River headwaters northeast climbing solid granite talus and a few easy class 2-3 waterfalls. About halfway up The Drain, the route turns southeast and runs into the vertical 50ft tall Little Ventana Falls. There is a 4th class route around the trees and some Yucca plants to the left of the falls. I chose to climb the face on the right of the falls and it went at what I would call solid 5.6 with exposure the entire climb. From here the route continues up several more class 2-3 solid granite waterfalls before the water ends. Continued up talus and rocky dry falls past lots of metal debris from the old lookout tower until the chute turns northeast again for the final climb. At the bottom of this section I climbed the higher right hand side that had a single 4th class section and once I got up I saw an easier 3rd class chute down to my left that I could have taken. Continued up some more talus and solid class 2 rock before 1 last climb. I stemmed up fun 3rd class on some awesome rock veins just below the ridgeline and popped out on the old trail about 20 yards from the summit. This section from Kandlbinder to VDC is 2 miles long and both loses and gains 2000’ in that distance. This portion took me 1hr20min. I signed the register and noted 2 people had taken the godforsaken “Trail” since I had last year. 1 said he crawled for miles, almost gave up twice, and camped on top. The other had planned on camping at Hiding Camp but ran into “some serious bushwhacking and slept on the side of a random hill”. So it’s safe to say that route is still “impassable”. From here I made the terrible decision of trying to traverse the ridge back to the window. I made it but this 1.1 mile section took me over 4 hours of bushwhacking I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies, followed by an insanely sketchy 4th class descent into The Window from the North Pinnacle. Signed my friends into the Wimp List register in The Window this time. A special register for non-Summiters I assume was placed by the old Pico Blanco Boy Scout Camp. I had forgot to add their names after they bailed at Kandlbinder the week prior to this trip. I then headed back out of The Window on the same route I’d taken a week before. Made it through this section with less bashing through bushes than the previous attempt with a little more care and then headed back up the class 2-3 ridge to Kandlbinder just as the sun set and the wind began to whip up. Headlamp down Kandlbinder, Mulberger, and Peak 3535 back to camp before a 1/4 mile hike with 200’ of gain and loss to refill water down at the South Fork Little Sur River.

Day 3 I hiked the ridge back to Cabezo Prieto without too many difficulties following the route. I noted that I only had to look at my track 5 times over this 2 mile section this time which was major progress. Once back on the Manuel trail, I ran down the ridge to Post Summit and on to Andrew Molera State Park where I crossed the Big Sur River and hiked down to the beach for lunch on the purple sands while I waited for the next Monterey-Salinas Transit bus back to civilization.
Total Stats:
27 miles
10,500’ gain
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:10506 ft / 3202 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5900 ft / 1798 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:10506 ft / 3202 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4606 ft / 1404 m; Extra: 5900 ft / 1798m
    Loss on way in:5900 ft / 1798 m
    Distance:27 mi / 43.5 km
    Route:The Drain via Kandlbinder Peak
    Start Trailhead:247 ft / 75 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Michael Toffey
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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